Albertson's Clark Botanic Gardens reopens to public

County Legislator Judi Bosworth, Town of North Hempstead County Legislator Judi Bosworth, Town of North Hempstead supervisor Jon Kaiman, Harvey Manes, a philanthropist who donated money to help restore the garden, and Councilman Thomas Dwyer participate in a ribbon cutting to officially reopen Clark Botanic Garden. (April 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Audrey C. Tiernan

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During a race-against-the clock effort to restore Albertson's Clark Botanic Garden, which was badly damaged during superstorm Sandy and reopened officially Wednesday, the horticulturist realized she had forgotten something.

"We need to stop cleaning up because we have to put the tulips in!" Ryan Torres recalled telling workers recently, while clearing brush from walkways. Nearly 50 trees were felled, and brush cluttered pathways.

"We are a botanic garden after all," Torres said.

So more than 2,000 tulips had been planted before Wednesday's reopening, and all longtime visitors and admirers could do was gaze at the sight before them. It was a nice touch, because beyond the garden's entrance revealed a sad reality. Gone is a significant shade buffer for the garden. Now, there's a clearer view of the nearby Albertson homes.

But since the grim task of clearing brush from walkways has ended, workers at the garden, run by North Hempstead Town, are hopeful the shadow of Sandy is behind them.

"We took a huge hit, but we don't want to be discounted," Torres said.

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Visitors local and from New York City came for a stroll Wednesday afternoon, some completely unaware the garden had been closed.

Marilyn Suzan, a retired New York City government worker, recalled her "weekly" visits, she said, since moving to Jamaica Estates in 1975.

"We don't have anything like this in the city, so we come to Nassau to enjoy the peace and tranquillity that this garden provides," she said. "It's a sanctuary."

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Jon Kaiman, North Hempstead supervisor, said, "Part of being a botanic garden is that nature has its way with us from time to time."

North Hempstead acquired Clark from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 1989, which had financial troubles. In 1966, Grenville Clark, a Wall Street attorney and author of "World Peace Through World Law," had donated the land as a tribute to his late wife.

In February, Harvey Manes, a philanthropist from Old Westbury, said he was inspired by Clark's peace efforts to donate $10,000 to the garden.

Jerilyn Dreitlein, chairwoman of the nonprofit that fundraises for the garden, said it has raised nearly $30,000 so far.

"We certainly exceeded our expectations," she said.

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